- Gansu jiayuguan Pass
- Close View of the Pass
- Three Towers
Admission Fee: CNY 101 (May 1 to Oct. 31); CNY 61 (Nov.1 to Apr. 30) (Including a postcard costing CNY1)
Opening Hours: 08:30 - 20:00 (summer and autumn); 08:30 - 18:00 (winter and spring)
Best Time to Visit: May to October
Location: The westernmost pass of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) wall, Jiayuguan Pass, literally "Excellent Valley Pass", is situated in the narrowest valley of the western Hexi Corridor, 6 km (3.7 miles) away from Jiayuguan City. The walls beside the pass cross through the Gobi desert regions, meet the Overhanging Great Wall in the north and joins up with the First Beacon Tower in the south.
Introduction: Renowned as "First and Greatest Pass under the Heaven" echoing the "First Pass under Heaven" Shanhaiguan from afar, Jiayuguan was an important transportation hub on the ancient Silk Road and the starting point of the Ming Dynasty wall in the west. It was originally built with an inner city, outer city, and moat, which formed a complete military system of both offence and defense. Its walls were densely ensconced with beacon and watch towers, pavilions and many other military facilities.
As the most well-preserved pass among all the passes, present Jiayuguan exemplifies the inner city whose walls were rammed with yellow clay in the middle and wrapped with bricks outside. The walls were built with a total of 14 towers, including arrow tower, watch tower, corner tower, garret and lock gate tower. The inner city has two gates – the east was named Guanghua Gate depicting purple mist rising from the east and brilliance illuminating all things, while the west was named Rouyuan symbolizing the western regions by means of pacification. Outside both of the gates, there is an enclosure for defense. The towers are three-storey gable-and-hip-roof style architecture with corridors and stand symmetrically. In the city there are the former residence of the general and Wenchang Pavilion, and outside of the east gate are Guandi Temple and Opera Tower. Beyond the west gate stands a gate tower and on it three Chinese Characters of Jia Yu Guan were engraved.
History: In the early Ming Dynasty, General Feng Sheng passed through Jiayuguan by way of returning to the capital after defeating the army of the Yuan Dynasty (1271 - 1368). He found that the place occupied a very strategic position and he suggested to Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang that a fortress be built there. In 1372, the construction began and was finished in 1540, including 4 large-scale expansions. In 1837, Zuo Zongtang, an administrator and military leader of the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911), revitalized the walls and towers and wrote the horizontal tablet "First and Greatest Pass under the Heaven", which was later destroyed. The present one is an imitation of the original. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, continuous maintenance and repair have been made.
Scenic Spots: In addition to the walls, towers, pass city and its supporting facilities, the pass is also famous for the following: its First Beacon Tower under Heaven built on a 56-meter-high (183.7 feet) cliff, Shiguanxia Overhanging Great Wall whose walls were erected on the 150-meter-high (492 feet) mountain ridges with approximately a 45-degree slope, Cliff Painting on the Heishan Mountain and the Great Wall Museum.
Transportation: Visitors have to take a plane, train, or long-distance bus to the city first, and then transfer to Bus No. 4 or a taxi.
Dinning: There are various types of food, including the Mapo Tofu and Malatang (tingling spicy hot pot) of Sichuan, Cool Rice Noodles and Meat Bun of Shaanxi, Roasted Mutton Cubes on Spit and Mutton Soup with Bean Vermicelli of Xinjiang, Beef Noodles of Lanzhou, Hui-style Niang Pi Zi as well as the local flavor Roasted Leg of Lamb, Braised Lamb in Brown Sauce, Xiong Guan Su and Stir-fried Camel Hump. Snacks in Zhenxing Market and Jingtie Road Food Street are also worth tasting. The Night Market in Jianshe East Road is also a good place for dinning if visiting in the summer.
Accommodation: There are many hotels, hostels, inns and guest houses in the city for visitors to choose. The city is not large and it's easy to find a place to stay.
Popular Tour Route: Jiayuguan Pass (→ Great Wall Museum)→ Overhanging Great Wall → First Beacon Tower under Heaven